Chapter 13. Plurilingualisms and knowledge construction in higher education

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This chapter aims to achieve a better understanding of the role of plurilingualism not only in the development of new communicative skills, but also in the construction of knowledge in higher education. On the basis of a theoretical framework at the crossroads between conversation analysis, discourse analysis, studies on second language acquisition and plurilingualism, we develop new analytical tools. We particularly focus here on a class sequence recorded in the Faculty of Law at the University of Zurich, which illustrates very well the relevance of language negotiation to the conceptualisation process. Our analysis brings in important distinctions between different linguistic modes (plurilingual vs unilingual) and participation regimes (more or less collaborative) and shows how the plurilingual mode connected to a collaborative participation can stimulate the acquisition process, the discourse activity (for example, a definition sequence) being also relevant to the shaping of knowledge. Furthermore, beyond the practice stage, we underline the role played by social representations in this regard. We conclude on the notion of plurilingualism as an asset.


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